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9.4 51 10
FanFix July 06, 2010 51928
(Updated: October 17, 2017)
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My go-to edit for this monstrosity of a Star Wars movie....I do like having as complete as possible a Star Wars chronology; it is interesting that the majority of the films in the chronology are fanedits! L8wrtr has made two films in that chronology I deem essential go-tos (this one and Republic Divided); his Hobbit edit is also one of my absolute treasured miracles of fanediting.

Alas, completely salvaging "The Phantom Menace" (my suspicions on the new Star Wars movie began with this title), short of re-shooting, is a mammoth task. Adywan has stated he will no longer attempt to tackle the prequels, and that's fine. Making this film into something that could eliminate 100% the absurdity is just not going to happen, EVER. The tendency for performances in Star Wars movies to be second-tier priorities began in ROTJ, continued throughout the prequels, and was thankfully jettisoned by JJ Abrams.

But l8wrtr has made something here worth noting. I don't even remember how much awfulness permeated TPM, since I've been watching only fanedits for years now and comparing them.

What do I like about this one compared to others to recommend it first?
1 - no announcers at the podrace. I don't know why people think this is innocuous enough to be left in; it is Lucas at his most shameless. Now, the podrace, sans music, announcers, and in its entirety, is thrilling by any standard.
2 - Gungan City is a necessary component for the movie. It introduces the Gungans, who obviously play major in the final act, and also gives us an explanation as to why the hell Qui-Gon allows Jar Jar to follow him around. Too many fanedits eliminate this scene; here it's kept in and tastefully recreated (although the TMNT Nintendo game antics of Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon swimming in the water are still there). Now we 'get' Jar Jar's need to be around and "me-so" everything.
3 - Anakin is, yes, less annoying (not Jake Lloyd's fault - this is pure Lucas shlock)....and the way the final battle is edited, with Anakin as the catalyst for success against the trade federation (minus his own commentary), is fantastic.
4 - The final scene, at Qui-Gon's funeral, is very, very effective. Leave it to Yoda and Windu to have the final exchange.
5 - The streamlining of the film does indeed make it fast, exciting, and ineffably itself. More on this below.
6 - Jar Jar's antics. Although I do tend to look at Jar Jar with different eyes since all of this Jar Jar as Sith Lord insanity has come to light in forums, either way, he has never been as charming as "goofy Yoda" will always be.

What could have been salvaged, but wasn't?
1 - I'm no expert at fanediting, but some things could have been trimmed/changed further - first off, I have seen some very effective fanedits that dub Jar Jar and the Trade Federation dudes. And that work is really, really well-done. Could such work be used here? Sure!
2 - Some of Any's mom's dialogue is beyond inane, and left in. The 'divine birth' has no real bearing on the story, and is as expendable as midichlorians. The one line, however, that still galls me is "my life is here, my future is here". While I can understand a mother saying such things to her child in a situation like this, the film's utter lack of self-consciousness about the line is what bugs me. Her "future" as a slave? okaaaaayyyyy.....
3 - "take this!"

What CANNOT be salvaged -
1 - the performances. Ewan gives the film's lone performance worth anything. Liam looks like he'd rather be back in Poland in the snow than in this movie. But the twin terrors of Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley represent the ultimate nadir of the Star Wars universe. One's worse than the other. ANYONE who found worth in Portman based on this performance deserves to be commended, because she is utterly unsalvageable.....but Knightley, seriously....every time she opens her mouth I look for an icepick to jab into my ear, because it would be a far more pleasant, rewarding, and enjoyable experience. I've seen more life looking at my toaster - when it's off. Short of re-shoots (Adywan, where are youuuuuuuu?????), you can't do anything about this. The 'twist' with the decoy and all that is also unnecessary and silly, but if you're going to have the ending play out logically, you have swallow and endure it.

***On a side is interesting to watch the film and notice the pacing. At 96 minutes, this is a fast, streamlined Star Wars. I'd like you all to imagine GL releasing this exact version in the theater in 1999. First off, there would be a LOT of talk about the runtime. 96 minutes would indeed match GL's retrospective dismissal of TPM as a "jazz riff", but would the narrative ***flow***? I would imagine there would be a lot of talk of lack of "padding", those obligatory shots professional directors and editors need to establish "down time" between characters and build relationships. This edit moves so blindingly fast that we have little time to process all of these new characters, vision, and scope...but that's a good problem to have! If people want more, you've succeeded on some level (check "Raiders" or "The Maltese Falcon" for ultimate examples of success along these lines). An edit like this would have been received certainly with a high amount of excitement and bewilderment, and since the cheese is gone there wouldn't be too many distractions (Knightley aside).

Still, what could a faneditor do with the ultra-cheesy source material? Everything that has been eliminated is necessary to make TPM watchable. I think any self-respecting editor understands the value of these scenes - certainly L8wrtr gets it when it comes to his beautiful, immaculate Hobbit edit. I've introduced my 2-year old daughter to Star Wars via a lot of fanedits, and this is another. She loves the pod race. This kind of approval is where it's at, as far as I'm concerned. L8twrtr, thanks for these continuously enjoyable gifts. Star Wars is too much fun and, dare I say, important, to be left in the doldrums of the original cuts.

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October 17, 2017
Couldn't agree more with many of your points. I watched this the other day for the first time and was blown away by how much I enjoyed this movie, despite being incredibly bored when I last watched the theatrical release and putting a gun to my head each time I heard a certain wooden manaquin mumble.

One of the main problems that stood out for me on this edit, however, was some of the cuts to Jar Jar - stay your sword, let me finish! - chiefly that when they are in the Gungan city, it is very unclear why Jar Jar isn't welcome and why if he is left there he will be "puuneeshed", which of course is what causes Qui Gon to have him tag along for the rest of the darn movie. I also don't feel it's necessary for us to see Jar Jar being promoted.

But, man, it's odd how when a film that you previously dismissed as existing is properly edited, you actually begin to notice GOOD scenes. Both Darth Maul confrontations are awesome and the pod race is great fun. My ideal edit would probably be to combine bits of L8wrtr and Octoroxx's edit (of which I watched earlier today). Both have made some very good decisions, although for now, L8wrtr is overall my go to edit.

Also, very keen to see L8wrtr's Hobbit edit. Can't wait for it to be live again!
October 21, 2017
In reply to an earlier comment

I definitely see your points re: Jar Jar. I think any scenes that advance Jar Jar's need to be in the film *plotwise* absolutely should be included, and not just deleted because Jar Jar. We're stuck with this guy; might as well make him as relevant as possible. Im really happy all the kid-humor moments are gone, and i can tolerate him while he's now onscreen. More relevant Jar Jar? Yes, sure! And actually I dont mind the promotion scene if you buy into the idea Jar Jar was working side by side with Palpatine (wild but credible theory).

L8wrtr's Hobbit edit was exactly what Ive been hoping for for the longest time when it comes to salvaging the trilogy. I was thrilled beyond words when i saw it; a proper review is in order one of these days. Yes, whenever you can get to see it, do so!!
November 14, 2018
In reply to an earlier comment

I'm not sure if people get alerts when comments are made here, but in case you ever stumble across this, I just thought I'd give you the reasoning behind how I crafted Jar Jar's trouble at Gungan City. This is an area where as an editor I'm trying to make the best with the limited source material at hand, and in this case what my intent is to imply as much as possible that Jar Jar is in trouble for bringing outsiders to their city, this is set-up by Jar Jar telling them that outsiders are not welcome, and his hesitancy in responding to Qui-Gon's request to go to Gungan City. As Doug23 notes, this sequence itself is critical to a smooth-flowing story, so for me this was the best balance of carving out the useless and the annoying while leaving something not just narratively coherent, but hopefully at least a tiny bit interesting. Perhaps if I ever re-re-edit this, I can take a stab at dialog replacement as Doug talked about, which would then give me opportunity to do subtitles and make that point clear.
April 02, 2023
Hi to L8wtr - just watched your edit again for the first time in a long while; still holds up as my edit of choice! Since you mentioned this in the comments, did you ever tinker around more with your edit after all these years? Just curious; thanks.
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